California Gov. Gavin Newsom and Attorney General Rob Bonta are again calling on Huntington Beach to back off challenging state housing laws, claiming one of the city council’s Tuesday proposals is illegal if they follow through on it.
“The City of Huntington Beach continues to attempt to evade their responsibility to build housing, but they will simply not win,” Newsom said in a Tuesday press release.
“City leaders have a choice – build more housing or face very real consequences – including loss of state funds, substantial fines, and loss of local control.”
At tonight’s public meeting, Huntington Beach City Council members are expected to consider exempting the city from some state housing laws – like developing granny flats without city approval – until potential lawsuits are decided.
Click here to read the follow-up story from Tuesday’s meeting.
The statements from Newsom and Bonta are the newest salvo in an ongoing back and forth of statements between city and state leaders over the past two months as a new council majority in Huntington Beach is fighting the state’s mandated housing goals.
[Read: Sacramento Tells Huntington Beach To Back Off Housing Fight Against Builders’ Remedy]
State officials, however, are not letting up increased pressure on local governments across California to address a statewide housing shortage and bring more affordable homes to the Golden State.
“Our state is facing an existential housing crisis. It is past time to work together to put the people of our state first. My office is ready to take action as necessary to enforce our laws, but Huntington Beach still has time to course correct,” Bonta said in a Tuesday news release.
“My message to Huntington Beach is simple: Work with us and we will work with you.”
Despite frequent warnings from state leaders over the past few months including the governor, attorney general and Department of Housing and Community Development, Huntington Beach leaders are looking at new rules limiting development of accessory dwelling units.
Also known as ADUs or granny flats, the state passed new laws in 2021 that circumvented local zoning rules and made it easier for residents to build those extra units on their property to increase the number of people who could live there.
Huntington Beach Councilman Pat Burns is claiming those new state laws, dubbed SB 9 and 10, violate the city’s powers of local control and is asking his colleagues to support suing the state to overturn the rules.
“The City has a duty to protect the quality and lifestyle of the neighborhoods that current owners have already bought into and for the future sustainability of Huntington Beach,” Burns wrote in a letter to his colleagues.
“Radical redevelopment in already-established residential neighborhoods is not only a threat to quality and lifestyle, but to the value of the adjacent and neighboring properties.”
Burns is requesting the city stop processing any requests from residents or developers to build granny flats and direct the city attorney to sue the state over it if necessary.
Last week, a majority of city planning commissioners voted to recommend making a zoning text amendment which would ban Builder’s Remedy – something first proposed by the city council in December.
It came after Bonta and other state officials repeatedly warned them not to do so.
Some worry that Builder’s Remedy – an obscure law from 1990 – would force development in cities without a state-approved housing plan like Huntington Beach.
[Read: Will Builder’s Remedy Create Housing Without Local Approval in Orange County?]
City leaders have repeatedly said they will not stop challenging the state’s mandated housing laws, promising to “unleash” city attorney Michael Gates.
“The City of Huntington Beach is right to challenge these State housing mandates,”said Mayor Tony Strickland said in a letter responding to state officials on Jan. 12. “We don’t need to hear a lecture from Governor Newsom. Gavin Newsom left San Francisco in shambles as Mayor and is doing the same thing to our state.”
On Tuesday, Newsom said HB officials won’t win that fight.
“Californians need more housing in all communities and Huntington Beach is no exception. Communities that fail to meet this moment will find out that the status quo will no longer be tolerated,” he said in Tuesday’s press release.
The previous city council majority had refused to go to court over housing after settling a lawsuit with the state in 2020.
Noah Biesiada is a Voice of OC reporter and corps member with Report for America, a GroundTruth initiative. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @NBiesiada.
Hosam Elattar is a Voice of OC reporter and corps member with Report for America, a GroundTruth initiative. Contact him at email@example.com or on Twitter @ElattarHosam.
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